Eighteen Lashes is a historical literary thriller: it is set in contemporary Tel Aviv but its heart is in the dramatic and violent 1940s.
It has four eightysomething protagonists, some of whom would lose their lives in its duration, each blaming the other, each with a different version of history - national and personal - and it is up to an Uber-like cab-driver to find out the truth.
A story of love, revenge, memory and time, Eighteen Lashes is funny, sexy and full of thrilling twists.
It is Gavron’s follow up to the award-winning internationally praised The Hilltop.
What starts as small talk in Eitan’s cab, develops into a detective journey full of humor and sophistication, at the center of which are two bodies – murder cases. It is one of those stories you finish reading with a huge smile on your face, which doesn’t vanish. Beyond the pace, the humor, and the lively sex scenes, the book is a breath of fresh air, of the sort that we are accustomed to receive from Gavron. There are those who blame Gavron for compromising this time on less “charged” issues than he dealt with in his previous novel, The Hilltop, but that is stupid, patronizing, and entirely disengaged from the joy this reading experience provides. More than anything, it is a story about love and the search for love, and about the well-known and age-long conflict between a youth full of confusion, madness and beauty, and the stability, experience and truth of old age.
Elad Zarat, Yedioth Achronot
In this apparently light-weight novel, Assaf Gavron deals with a number of profound issues: what is memory and what is myth? How is history created? What is that evasive 'truth' that everyone desires? Or perhaps there may be several versions of it?... light and full of humor, the novel interlaces the cool Britishness of the queen of thrillers with the steamy Israeliness of cab drivers, and the combination is extremely attractive to read.
Sahra Blau, IDF Radio
Few are the authors who know how to distill the essence of Israeliness in such an accurate and true manner, and at the same time – in want of a better word – is such a cool way, like Assaf Gavron. Even when the plot deals with the days of the British Mandate and the underground resistance to it, and the heroes are old timers towards the end of their lives, his new book manages to be as Tel Avivi, mean, dark and mischievous as could be. Beyond its historical and artistic importance, it is a book that is simply fun to read, first and foremost thanks to its protagonist… Croc is a complex, captivating character, whose natural, flowing Hebrew succeeds in being down-to-earth and rich, creative and lightweight all at the same time. This is how a real street poet sounds like, and one with a soul that is as deep as the abyss… Beyond everything we have here a thrilling, dramatic story, full of turns and surprises, that propels you into the past as much as it lives the present and blinks suspiciously toward the future. The Mandate era has never been sexier and wilder, and present Tel Aviv has never been so sad and human.
Ran Bin-Nun, Yedioth Achronot daily section
Gavron's writing sucks the reader very quickly into the story and doesn't allow him to rest until he reaches the last line and allows himself to unplug. The last thing you want to do from the moment you start reading this book, is to leave—even for a moment—the protagonist, who manages somehow to touch some nerve in your heart and to connect to your most exposed parts... It is an excellent novel, the kind which I know, even as I read it for the first time, that I will want to read it again.
P.S. I've read many sex scenes in my life but I think I can honestly say that none of them resembles the ones I read in this book. Not by a mile.
Yoav Shai, Writer's Block blog
[This book is] A statement about our situation, about Israeliness, if you want... The real investigation at the center of this novel is about the nature of love... Eighteen Lashes is yet another layer of ideas and research, which add beautiful and important weight to Gavron's previous work.
Lior Kasus, Walla
Gavron has written a smart, funny and witty text about the heart of the Israeli existence... An enjoyable novel that I liked a lot.
Yuval Avivi, Haaretz
Gavron's language is down-to-earth, spoken Hebrew, and the result is effortless and full of charm. The linguistic style is what makes Croc both tough and vulnerable, and the urban landscape seen out of the windows of the cab, sometimes bursting into it, authentic and believable... The way Gavron deals with masculinity at the age of 44 and a quarter – fatherhood, divorce, sex, loneliness – is achieved without sparing emotion and self-inflicted humor, and this ultimately pushes the novel forward.
Neta Halperin, Israel Today
Thanks to the relaxed tension characterizing the novel, I enjoyed it. I loved the nonchalant, ‘anti-thrillerish’ use of the thriller genre.
Yoni Livne, Yedioth Achronot literary supplement